August 29, 2014

Mesmerizing

This time-lapse video of ships entering and leaving the Panama Canal is absolutely mesmerizing and I don't know why.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:46 AM | Permalink

August 27, 2014

"‘I didn’t want to appear racist’ is the ‘I was only obeying orders’ of our age"

From Rotherham , a large town in South Yorkshire of about  258 thousand comes the horrifying, appalling report of police, councilmen and social workers allowing mainly white girls as young as 11 to be raped, threatened with death and turned into sex slaves by Pakistani gangs so no one could accuse them of being racist.    A grotesque sacrifice of young girls on the altar of political correctness.

You can be sure that none of them will be punished and taxpayers will bear the cost of damage awards of the civil suits that are sure to follow.

Rotherham sex abuse scandal: 1,400 children exploited by Asian gangs while authorities turned a blind eye

More than 1,400 children were sexually abused over a 16 year period by gangs of pedophiles after police and council bosses turned a blind eye for fear of being labelled racist, a damning report has concluded.

Senior officials were responsible for “blatant” failures that saw victims, some as young as 11, being treated with contempt and categorized as being “out of control” or simply ignored when they asked for help.

In some cases, parents who tried to rescue their children from abusers were themselves arrested. Police officers even dismissed the rape of children by saying that sex had been consensual.

Downing Street on Tuesday night described the failure to halt the abuse in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, as “appalling”.  Following the publication of the report, the leader of Rotherham council, Roger Stone, resigned, but no other council employees will face disciplinary proceedings after it was claimed that there was not enough evidence to take action.

New York Times 

A report released on Tuesday on accusations of widespread sexual abuse in the northern England city of Rotherham found that about 1,400 minors — some as young as 11 years old — were beaten, raped and trafficked from 1997 to 2013 as the local authorities ignored a series of red flags.

Some children were doused in gasoline and threatened with being set on fire if they reported their abusers, the report said, and others were forced to watch rapes and threatened with the same fate. In more than a third of the cases, the victims appear to have been known to child protection agencies, but the police and local government officials failed to act……

The vast majority of perpetrators have been identified as South Asian and most victims were young white girls, adding to the complexity of the case. Some officials appeared to believe that social workers pointing to a pattern of sexual exploitation were exaggerating, while others reportedly worried about being accused of racism if they spoke out. The report accused officials of ignoring “a politically inconvenient truth” in turning a blind eye to men of Pakistani heritage grooming vulnerable white girls for sex.
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Some officials were apparently ordered by their managers to withhold information on the ethnic origin of the abusers, the report said. As a result, no contact was made with local Pakistani leaders for help in identifying gangs that continued to assault and abduct teenagers.


Some Pakistani councillors in Rotherham 'blocked attempts' to tackle child abuse… and some 'tried to force social workers to reveal the refuges where domestic violence victims were staying'

Sue Reid 'I was called a liar and a racist for exposing this sex gang abuse horror'

Even those of us who warned for years of young girls being traded in provincial towns as sex slaves were shocked at yesterday’s revelations of the scale of the crimes.  Particularly shameful was the silence of police, councillors and senior social workers. For crucial information about the crimes that had been given to the authorities — often by parents frantic about their daughters going missing or turning up drunk and dishevelled late at night — was either suppressed or ignored.

And so the brutal street-grooming and sexual abuse went on for 16 years. One girl quoted in the report says she thought ‘gang-rape was a usual part of growing up’.
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It is vital to stress two important things. First, that the great majority of Asian men are law-abiding citizens with strong family values. Second, that rape and pedophilia are problems across all sectors of society and have nothing to do with race and ethnicity.
Yet the responsibility for these crimes to continue unpunished for so long lies with the weakness of those authorities whose duty it is to care for the vulnerable.
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Speaking on conditions of strict anonymity because she fears for her safety even though she has now left the town, one of the early victims of the Rotherham gangs told me that she was at primary school when she was first attacked. ‘One minute I was playing with dolls, the next I was a sex slave.’

'I saved all my clothes I was raped in but the police lost them and said it was my word against his': Shocking claims of Rotherham sex abuse gang victim whose parents sent her abroad when authorities failed to protect her

The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards

White experts and officers have for too long been reluctant to confront serious offences committed by black and Asian people. Such extreme tolerance is the result of specious morality, that credo that says investigating such crimes would encourage racism or enrage community activists and leaders, or, worse, make the professionals appear racist. So, instead of saving children who were being gang raped, drugged, assaulted, threatened and terrorised, they chose to protect rapists, abusers, traffickers and drug dealers. And themselves.
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The perpetrators are not pedophiles in the normal sense of the word. Racial and cultural odium as much as ugly lust and power drives them to abuse. Most of them are also irreversibly misogynist. It is a lethal mix, this sexist psychopathy.

I partly blame their families and communities. Too many Asian mothers spoil their boys, undervalue their girls, and demean their daughters-in-law. Within some British Asian circles, the West is considered degenerate and immoral. So it’s OK to take their girls and ruin them further. Some of the most fierce rows I have ever had have been with Asian women who hold these disgusting views.

Ann Althouse “I’d like to see more detail about this ‘fear of being thought as racist.’ It sounds like a confession of deliberate law enforcement paralysis, a choice to permit thousands of children to be raped for decades on end, because of befuddlement about how on earth to begin to do anything without looking bad or because of a sense that your community is already hopelessly overwhelmed by evil forces that will only become more aggressive and violent if opposed.”    Perhaps they need to consider the possibility that there are worse things than being thought racist. Of course, if that idea were to spread, a powerful tool of social control would vanish.

"Political Correctness is Fascism Pretending to be Manners"  Bookworm Room

‘I didn’t want to appear racist’ is the ‘I was only obeying orders’ of our age writes Ed West in the Spectator

How could this have happened? A clue is given by the report’s authors, who state that ‘several staff described their nervousness about identifying the ethnic origins of perpetrators for fear of being thought racist’.

Racism has become so hysterical a subject that it has crowded out all other moral concerns, including in this case the concern to look after children…..

Political correctness was supposed to make us nicer, but in reality it just makes people stupider. As anyone who has done any sort of online test will tell you, much of human intelligence comes down to pattern recognition; the whole purpose of political correctness is to stop us noticing patterns even when they stare us in the face.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:46 PM | Permalink

Jihad in America

For two bloody months, an armed jihadist serial killer ran loose across the country. At least four innocent men died this spring and summer as acts of "vengeance" on behalf of aggrieved Muslims, the self-confessed murderer has now proclaimed. Have you heard about this horror? Probably not.

That would be Ali Muhammad Brown of whom Ace writes What if There Was a Coordinated Group Terror and Murder Campaign Against Gays Living In America, and The Media Didn't Report It?

a group of men, led by a Ali Mohammad Brown, used the hook-up phone app "Grindr" to arrange liaisons with gay men, before Brown murdered them. (I do not know the extent of the accomplices' involvement.)

Ali Mohammad Brown is a "strict Muslim," according to one press account, and according to prosecutors, was murdering people for terroristic motives, as part of a "bloody crusade" against the US government as vengeance against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Apparently he chose gay men as among the most unrighteous of all possible terror-murder victims.

Robert Spencer 10 Acts of Jihad in America That Americans Haven’t Heard About

While the world’s attention is focused on the Islamic State, and its jihadis tell Americans that they will “drown all of you in blood,” jihad activity continues in the United States – although hardly anyone notices through the fog of mainstream media obfuscation.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:28 AM | Permalink

August 26, 2014

Yay Mark Bustos

Mark Bustos is a 30-year-old hairstylist in Manhattan who goes around on Sunday offering haircuts to the homeless and to people who can't afford them.

 Mark Bustos

Every weekend, he wonders the city's streets to find people who look as though they could do with a haircut and who might otherwise not be able to afford it. 
Mr Bustons experience in hair-styling goes back to when he was a teenager. At the age of 14 he was styling out of his parent's garage.
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His motto is simple: 'Be awesome to somebody'
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His haircuts for the homeless was inspired after taking a trip in May 2012, to his native country of The Philippines where he snipped away on underprivileged kids.  He said the trip gave him the idea and momentum to continue the good deeds back in the States.  'The feeling was so rewarding, I decided to bring the positive energy back to New York City.'
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The transformations seen after a simple haircut and shave are incredible. Bustos says that people are treated better when their hair is styled neatly.

 Homeless-Client-1

Many more transformations were captured by photographer Devin Masga and can be seen at the link.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:42 PM | Permalink

"Jaw-dropping revelation"

The only way government officials are held accountable is by  a DOJ investigation or by Congressional investigation and eventually by the courts.  Thank heavens we have Judge Emmet Sullivan

Contemptuous and Arrogant StonewallingA Justice Department official admitted that former IRS official Lois Lerner’s apparently missing emails actually exist on a backup server, but the government doesn’t plan to retrieve them.  "It would be too hard"

Judicial Watch Statement on Discovery of Backups for “Missing” Lois Lerner IRS Emails

The Obama administration attorneys said that this back-up system would be too onerous to search.  ….

This is a jaw-dropping revelation.  The Obama administration had been lying to the American people about Lois Lerner’s missing emails. There are no “missing” Lois Lerner emails – nor missing emails of any of the other top IRS or other government officials whose emails seem to be disappearing at increasingly alarming rate. All the focus on missing hard drives has been a diversion. The Obama administration has known all along where the email records could be – but dishonestly withheld this information. You can bet we are going to ask the court for immediate assistance in cutting through this massive obstruction of justice.

IRS Shocker: Filing Reveals Lerner Blackberry Destroyed  The device was wiped AFTER Congressional inquiry began

The IRS filing in federal Judge Emmet Sullivan’s court reveals shocking new information. The IRS destroyed Lerner’s Blackberry AFTER it knew her computer had crashed and after a Congressional inquiry was well underway. As an IRS official declared under the penalty of perjury, the destroyed Blackberry would have contained the same emails (both sent and received) as Lois Lerner’s hard drive.

Conflict of Interest New Documents: Justice Dept’s IRS Representation Conducted by Former IRS Attorney Involved in Targeting of Conservatives Himself

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:44 PM | Permalink

August 25, 2014

Health roundup: Salt, aspirin and new hope for the paralyzed

No need to cut back on salt: New study claims most people don't need to lower amount they eat

A large international study questions the conventional wisdom that most people should cut back on salt, suggesting that the amount most folks consume is OK for heart health — and too little may be as bad as too much. The findings came under immediate attack by other scientists.

Limiting salt is still important for people with high blood pressure — and in fact, a second study estimates that too much sodium contributes to up to 1.65 million deaths each year  The first study's leader, Dr. Salim Yusuf of McMaster University's Population Health Research Institute in Hamilton, Ontario, urged keeping an open mind….Yusuf's study is observational, rather than a strict experiment, and has big limitations in its methods. But its size lends strength — more than 100,000 people in 17 countries, the largest on this topic. It's also from a general population, not just people at high risk of heart disease, as many past studies have been.

Everyday drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen could help treat depression after scientists found inflammation may influence mental illness.

A study at Cambridge University suggest that the immune system plays an important role in mental health by ‘cranking’ up the body’s responses and increasing the risk of subsequent mental illness.  But inflammation-fighting drugs could provide a readily-available, safe and affordable alternative treatment.

Overweight women with breast cancer 'could halve the risk of the disease coming back' by taking aspirin regularly

Scientists hailed the study as encouraging because overweight women are more at risk of breast cancer coming back than those of a healthy weight.  Their research suggests the humble painkiller may cut by 50 per cent the chances of recurrence and also leads to a ‘sizable delay’ of two years before it does.

Diabetes drug that could help us all live longer: Doctors say it could also stave off cancer

A drug widely prescribed to treat type 2 diabetes could help us all live longer, a study says.  Research suggests metformin, which controls glucose levels, may also stave off cardiovascular disease and cancer – whether someone has diabetes or not.
Scientists who studied more than 180,000 people found a ‘small but statistically significant improvement in survival’ in those taking metformin, compared with those given older anti-diabetic drugs and a group without diabetes.

New hope for the paralyzed.  Hope for stroke victims after radical stem cell treatment enables patients to move and talk again

Stroke patients have shown remarkable signs of recovery after they were given a radical new treatment.  Five people who had suffered severe strokes regained the power of speech, use of their arms and legs and improved cognition after just six months, according to British research published today.

The three men and two women, aged between 45 and 75, were treated with stem cells extracted from their own bone marrow in the first experiment of its kind.  The treatment, developed by scientists at Imperial College in London, is thought to be so effective because it triggers the rapid regeneration of brain cells that are damaged during a stroke.

Scientists cautioned that the new treatment is at a very early stage, and said it needs to be tested on thousands more people before it can be declared a complete success, but they said the results show great potential to revolutionize life for stroke patients.

New hope for paralyzed patients: Scientists grow links between spinal cord and the brain for the first time

Spinal injury victims left paralyzed have been offered new hope of walking again thanks to a breakthrough in stem cell science.
U.S. scientists have regrown spinal cord neurons from a patient’s own cells for the first time.
Implanting the cells in rats, they found that the neurons caused the animals’ nervous systems to rewire the spinal cord and brain.
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Currently, there is no way to treat spinal injuries once connections between the neurons are lost, resulting in connections between the brain and the body being cut off.

Professor Tuszynski said : ‘Earlier work has shown that grafted stem cells reprogrammed to become neurons can, in fact, form new, functional circuits across an injury site, with the treated animals experiencing some restored ability to move affected limbs.’
However, he warned that further tests to find out how best to graft stem cells and cure paralysis could take ‘months to years’.
He also said that experts should be cautious when conducting a human trial in the future.
‘The enormous outgrowth of axons [verve fibres] to many regions of the spinal cord and even deeply into the brain raises questions of possible harmful side effects if axons are mistargeted.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:13 AM | Permalink

Yay, Lillian

Every Day, This 99 Year Old Woman Sews a Dress for a Needy Child

 Lillian Weber 99 Dress-A-Day 
This is Lillian Weber of Scott County, Illinois. She's 99 years old but still very active. Every day, she sews a dress for Little Dresses for Africa, a charity that sends clothing to impoverished children in Africa. She gets up in the morning, starts to work on a dress, takes a break, then finishes in the afternoon. For the past 2 years, she repeated this routine daily, producing 840 dresses. Ms. Weber plans to make 150 more by next May when she will turn 100 years old.

 Weber-Dresses

Ms. Weber works from a standard pattern, but she personalizes each dress by combining different fabrics and trims. A child who wears one of her dresses isn't getting a copy of a mass-produced dress, but an original.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:57 AM | Permalink

Spiritual but not religious is not enough

David Mills has a word for People Who Find God in Sunsets

It’s too vague, too hazy, too . . . pointless. It advertises itself as a steak when it’s really made of cotton candy, and sugar-free cotton candy to boot. It says “I’m a serious, grown-up faith,” but it’s not.

A serious, grown-up faith tells us “Thus says the Lord,” or at least “Thus says the universe.” It deals with the problem that we don’t seem to fit in this world very well. It calls us to some ideal we’re not reaching. It offers us a hope that our life and our world will be better. It gives us things to do to be better.

Buddhism, the religion closest to “spiritual but not religious,” is a serious, grown-up faith. It demands something of you. It’s hard work, being a serious Buddhist. Buddhist monks don’t stare at sunsets while drinking wine on the porch.

A serious religion is solid. You may think it completely wrong, but you can see it clearly and decide what you think about it. You can take its measure. This kind of “spirituality,” there’s just nothing there to see. It can be anything and nothing.
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That a beautiful sunset makes you feel good about everything doesn’t help you when you really need help. The sunset’s still beautiful when your wife has cancer, you’ve lost your job, and you have to be out of your home in a month, but so what? The same nature that produced the sunset is producing the cancer cells threatening to kill your wife.

The man wasting away from pancreatic cancer will, as I’ve written elsewhere, get no help nor comfort from the “spiritual,” which will abandon him when he feels pain morphine won’t suppress. He has no one to beg for help, no one to ask for comfort, no one to be with him, no one to meet when he crosses from this world to the next. He wants what religion promises.

He links to Lillian Daniel, author of When 'Spiritual But Not Religious' is Not Enough who writes

Being privately spiritual but not religious just doesn't interest me. There is nothing challenging about having deep thoughts all by oneself. What is interesting is doing this work in community, where other people might call you on stuff, or heaven forbid, disagree with you. Where life with God gets rich and provocative is when you dig deeply into a tradition that you did not invent all for yourself.

Thank you for sharing, spiritual-but-not-religious sunset person. You are now comfortably in the norm for self-centered American culture, right smack in the bland majority of people who find ancient religions dull but find themselves uniquely fascinating. Can I switch seats now and sit next to someone who has been shaped by a mighty cloud of witnesses instead? Can I spend my time talking to someone brave enough to encounter God in a real human community? Because when this flight gets choppy, that's who I want by my side, holding my hand, saying a prayer and simply putting up with me, just like we try to do in church.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:50 AM | Permalink

August 23, 2014

Miscellaneous articles of note

I loved this story in the WSJ  In Tehran,  Couple Turns Their Cab Into a Rolling Library; 'Books on Wheels'

The Street’s Secret Code  by Paul Lukas  What asphalt tags say about the city

Three years after the Boston program’s implementation, Cardarelli is now a full-fledged A-tag evangelist. “It’s a no-brainer!” he says. “I don’t understand why every city hasn’t done it.”

Outside. We Don't Need No Education by Ben Hewitt

At least not of the traditional, compulsory, watch-the-clock-until-the-bell-rings kind. As a growing movement of unschoolers believe, a steady diet of standardized testing and indoor inactivity is choking the creativity right out of our kids. The alternative: set 'em free
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This was the childhood I wished I’d had, equal measures freedom, responsibility, and respect, with none of the rote soul-crushing memorization that had soured me on school. Sure, Crescent and Orion could be a bit wild—I once found the front bumper of my truck kissing a spruce tree that stood between the driveway and the house—but they were precocious and self-aware, brimming with confidence and curiosity. They looked you in the eye and spoke in full sentences. They were constantly running and laughing and playing. I’m not sure how else to put it except to say that never before had I known kids who so fully embodied childhood.

When Penny, then my girlfriend, came to visit, she noticed it, too. “Those kids are amazing,” she said. “I didn’t even know there were kids like that.”

Gracie Olmstead responds in Unschooling: the Future of Education?

What a gorgeous, mysterious video of an ocean of fog  Full Moon Pacific Blanket

Introducing the Bible! Now with Less!
Delete the chapter and verse numbers. Kill all the notes. Make it one column. Make a million bucks.

If you watch Adam Lewis Greene's Kickstarter campaign page - Bibliotheca -for more than a couple of seconds, you can see the number of pledges pop higher. With two days left, Greene's goal of raising $37,000 to print a Bible "designed and crafted for reading, separated into four elegant volumes, and free of all numbers and notes" has been met several times over.  In fact, it just surpassed $1 million.

How liberalism became an intolerant dogma by Damon Linker who writes, "Liberals are increasingly religious about their own liberalism, treating it like a comprehensive view of reality and the human good."

Ten Reasons Why I Am No Longer a Leftist by Danusha V. Goska

How far left was I? So far left my beloved uncle was a card-carrying member of the Communist Party in a Communist country. When I returned to his Slovak village to buy him a mass card, the priest refused to sell me one. So far left that a self-identified terrorist proposed marriage to me. So far left I was a two-time Peace Corps volunteer and I have a degree from UC Berkeley. So far left that my Teamster mother used to tell anyone who would listen that she voted for Gus Hall, Communist Party chairman, for president. I wore a button saying "Eat the Rich." To me it wasn't a metaphor.

I voted Republican in the last presidential election.  Below are the top ten reasons I am no longer a leftist. This is not a rigorous comparison of theories. This list is idiosyncratic, impressionistic, and intuitive…..

Hate - If hate were the only reason, I'd stop being a leftist for this reason alone.
I needed to leave the left, I realized, when I decided that I wanted to spend time with people building, cultivating, and establishing, something that they loved.

Damon Linker again. What religious traditionalists can teach us about sex Modern notions of sexuality are here to stay. But traditional strictures on sex served a profound purpose.

Welcome to The Future! (Please enjoy responsibly.)

Absurd levels of luxury. Enjoy material comforts the kings and queens of old could never have imagined. Hot water on demand in virtually every home, no fire necessary. Heaters, fans and “air conditioning technology” allow you to even adjust the temperature of the air itself to match your preference, any time of year. Enjoy fine soaps, lotions, textiles and perfumes. Even spices and teas are readily available, in hundreds of exotic varieties. Be shuttled around the globe in automobiles and flying machines, even if you have no royal blood at all.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:18 PM | Permalink

August 21, 2014

The Rise of the Administrative State: Unelected, Undemocratic and Unaccountable

Comic book references are lost on me; nonetheless, The Sinestro Theory of the Administrative State by Ben Domenech is well worth reading .

First, the stunning graph from Pew showing the rising levels of distrust in government

 Trust-Distrust Amer Govt

On the whole, it presents a picture of how far the Administrative State is willing to blatantly ignore any checks on their ability to enact their whims.

The Founders believed that you can check that power with the mob, either democratic or anarchic, for only so long before government would turn to despotism. So their solution was to deliberately balance the forces of power against each other, to tie the governors’ hands via limited, enumerated powers of national government. The Constitution made the action of government – in nearly all areas outside of waging war – deliberately difficult, and that was on purpose. It was supposed to be hard to pass new laws, not because the Founders were opposed to new laws, but because they wanted to make it impossible for those laws to oppress the people.

What the Founders did not anticipate was the degree to which those invested by the Constitution with the power to make law would find it politically advantageous over the course of a century to steadily cede their power to unelected governmental bodies of vast size and with an ever-enlarged mission. Representative government, it turns out, is very difficult. Better and wiser to shift the responsibility for such decisions to someone else – to tell the frustrated citizen that it is beyond your control to address their concern, and isn’t there an agency for that? This new unchecked branch of government has seized the power it wants along the way: the power to reward friends and grant waivers and special privileges to people and firms who they like or who play by their rules, to abuse their power in the course of punishing those who they don’t, the power to live large and cover up mistakes without that difficult legislative process.
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When bad things happen in the real world, heads roll. But in the world of the Administrative State, resignation is the worst possible thing you can demand of someone. So political appointees are given taxpayer funded vacations, cops who break the law are put on leave, and district attorneys who drive out-of-their-minds drunk demand they keep their job. Life in the bureaucracy is too sweet to lose, no matter what – and those who hold those positions know how good a deal they have and won’t give it up under any conditions.

Mark Steyn has the latest ludicrous example of the punitive bureaucracy

Demanding a CITES certificate for bagpipes is a burden upon free-born citizens. Restricting the paperwork's validity to only 28 ports of entry is an unduly onerous burden. Requiring the bagpipers to come back on the Wednesday to those 28 ports of entry because the inspector's washing her hair on the Tuesday is an even more onerous and insulting burden. And charging an American $476 to play his bagpipe in Montreal is a shakedown racket unacceptable in a free society. Tyranny starts at the edges and nibbles its way in. This bagpipe regime is tyrannous, but it will not stop there.

As I said before, where is "the party of small government" on this? When will they pipe up?

Or do bagpipers have to loot and riot to get any attention from anyone who matters?
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:36 PM | Permalink

"Sex change is biologically impossible"

Dr. Paul McHugh, the former psychiatrist-in-chief for Johns Hopkins Hospital and its current Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry, writes in the Wall Street Journal,  Transgender Surgery Isn't the Solution

Policy makers and the media are doing no favors either to the public or the transgendered by treating their confusions as a right in need of defending rather than as a mental disorder that deserves understanding, treatment and prevention. This intensely felt sense of being transgendered constitutes a mental disorder in two respects. The first is that the idea of sex misalignment is simply mistaken—it does not correspond with physical reality. The second is that it can lead to grim psychological outcomes.
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With the transgendered, the disordered assumption is that the individual differs from what seems given in nature—namely one's maleness or femaleness. Other kinds of disordered assumptions are held by those who suffer from anorexia and bulimia nervosa, where the assumption that departs from physical reality is the belief by the dangerously thin that they are overweight.
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You won't hear it from those championing transgender equality, but controlled and follow-up studies reveal fundamental problems with this movement. When children who reported transgender feelings were tracked without medical or surgical treatment at both Vanderbilt University and London's Portman Clinic, 70%-80% of them spontaneously lost those feelings. Some 25% did have persisting feelings; what differentiates those individuals remains to be discerned.
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We at Johns Hopkins University—which in the 1960s was the first American medical center to venture into "sex-reassignment surgery"….stopped doing sex-reassignment surgery, since producing a "satisfied" but still troubled patient seemed an inadequate reason for surgically amputating normal organs.

A 2011 study at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden produced the most illuminating results yet regarding the transgendered, evidence that should give advocates pause. The long-term study—up to 30 years—followed 324 people who had sex-reassignment surgery. The study revealed that beginning about 10 years after having the surgery, the transgendered began to experience increasing mental difficulties. Most shockingly, their suicide mortality rose almost 20-fold above the comparable nontransgender population. This disturbing result has as yet no explanation but probably reflects the growing sense of isolation reported by the aging transgendered after surgery. The high suicide rate certainly challenges the surgery prescription.
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At the heart of the problem is confusion over the nature of the transgendered. "Sex change" is biologically impossible. People who undergo sex-reassignment surgery do not change from men to women or vice versa. Rather, they become feminized men or masculinized women. Claiming that this is civil-rights matter and encouraging surgical intervention is in reality to collaborate with and promote a mental disorder.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:28 PM | Permalink

"Your liberal and democratic principles are worth nothing here"

Our sufferings today are the prelude of those you, Europeans and Western Christians, will also suffer in the near future. I lost my diocese. The physical setting of my apostolate has been occupied by Islamic radicals who want us converted or dead. But my community is still alive.

Please, try to understand us. Your liberal and democratic principles are worth nothing here. You must consider again our reality in the Middle East, because you are welcoming in your countries an ever growing number of Muslims.  Also you are in danger. You must take strong and courageous decisions, even at the cost of contradicting your principles.  You think all men are equal, but that is not true: Islam does not say that all men are equal. Your values are not their values.  If you do not understand this soon enough, you will become the victims of the enemy you have welcomed in your home.

Archbishop Amel Nona, Chaldean Catholic Archeparch of Mosul, now exiled in Erbil  source

In the NYT, Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress writes Who Will Stand Up for the Christians?

WHY is the world silent while Christians are being slaughtered in the Middle East and Africa? In Europe and in the United States, we have witnessed demonstrations over the tragic deaths of Palestinians who have been used as human shields by Hamas, the terrorist organization that controls Gaza. The United Nations has held inquiries and focuses its anger on Israel for defending itself against that same terrorist organization. But the barbarous slaughter of thousands upon thousands of Christians is met with relative indifference.

The Middle East and parts of central Africa are losing entire Christian communities that have lived in peace for centuries. The terrorist group Boko Haram has kidnapped and killed hundreds of Christians this year — ravaging the predominantly Christian town of Gwoza, in Borno State in northeastern Nigeria, two weeks ago. Half a million Christian Arabs have been driven out of Syria during the three-plus years of civil war there. Christians have been persecuted and killed in countries from Lebanon to Sudan.

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Historians may look back at this period and wonder if people had lost their bearings. Few reporters have traveled to Iraq to bear witness to the Nazi-like wave of terror that is rolling across that country. The United Nations has been mostly mum. World leaders seem to be consumed with other matters in this strange summer of 2014. There are no flotillas traveling to Syria or Iraq. And the beautiful celebrities and aging rock stars — why doesn’t the slaughter of Christians seem to activate their social antennas?
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The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is not a loose coalition of jihadist groups, but a real military force that has managed to take over much of Iraq with a successful business model that rivals its coldblooded spearhead of death. It uses money from banks and gold shops it has captured, along with control of oil resources and old-fashioned extortion, to finance its killing machine, making it perhaps the wealthiest Islamist terrorist group in the world. But where it truly excels is in its carnage, rivaling the death orgies of the Middle Ages. It has ruthlessly targeted Shiites, Kurds and Christians.

“They actually beheaded children and put their heads on a stick” a Chaldean-American businessman named Mark Arabo told CNN, describing a scene in a Mosul park. “More children are getting beheaded, mothers are getting raped and killed, and fathers are being hung.”

This week, 200,000 Aramaeans fled their ancestral homeland around Nineveh, having already escaped Mosul.

The general indifference to ISIS, with its mass executions of Christians and its deadly preoccupation with Israel, isn’t just wrong; it’s obscene…..

The Jewish people understand all too well what can happen when the world is silent. This campaign of death must be stopped.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:53 PM | Permalink

Thinking past ourselves, 'more than me, more than now'

Ryan Dobson Get Over Your Selfie  Gazing in the digital mirror, we lose the habit of seeing ourselves as part of a bigger story.

A Facebook  timeline goes back to 2007. The timeline for my father, James Dobson, goes back four generations to his great-grandfather. My great-great-grandfather was on his way to kill a man when he was diverted to a tent revival in a small Texas town. Instead of taking a life that night, M.V. Billingham gave his life to God. He left his gun on the altar.

M.V. was unarmed, but after that he habitually deployed a secret weapon. For most of his adult life, he routinely prayed for his son, for his son's children, and for their children to the fourth generation . . . all the way to my dad.  Whatever a "selfie" says about a person, this man was the opposite. With a strong sense of "more than me, more than now," more than a century ago, he prayed for people he'd never meet.

Did it make a difference? My family says yes. Among other things, my dad grew up aware of his place in a bigger story. He knew the next leg of the race was his to run; the baton was his to hand off.  Who's going to drop out of a relay like that? Not me. ….

We're losing the habit of thinking past ourselves. As we do, we lose our best selves and our best chances to help shape what comes next. We drop the baton.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:04 PM | Permalink

The Shame of PWC

The shame of an American company.  Price Waterhouse Coopers fined $25 million for role in terrorist-state money-laundering

Auditing giant PriceWaterhouseCoopers is getting slapped with a $25 million fine for helping a Japanese bank launder money for terrorist states like Iran, Sudan and Myanmar.
New York’s top financial services regulator is putting the screws to PwC after it aided the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi hide the true nature of the illegal transactions on a 2008 financial statement, according to a settlement between the auditor and state officials announced Monday.

That director was Richard Inserro, who is now a PwC partner dealing in banking and capital markets, a source familiar with the investigation told The Post. 
PwC is also suspended for two years from consulting.

The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi settled last year with Lawsky’s office for $250 million. In May 2008, the Japanese bank told PwC that it had a written policy to strip wire messages of any information that related to countries blacklisted by the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control, according to the settlement.

Rebecca Hamiliton calls it Funding Rape, Kidnapping, Beheading and Genocide

About PWC from  Wikipedia

PricewaterhouseCoopers (trading as PwC) is a multinational professional services network. It is the world's largest professional services network, as measured by 2014 revenues, and is one of the Big Four auditors, along with Deloitte, Ernst & Young (EY) and KPMG.

PwC is a network of firms in 157 countries with more than 184,000 people. It had total revenues of $32.1 billion in FY 2013, of which $14.8 billion was generated by its Assurance practice, $8.2 billion by its Tax practice and $9.2 billion by its Advisory practice.

The firm was formed in 1998 by a merger between Coopers & Lybrand and Price Waterhouse.  The trading name was shortened to PwC in September 2010 as part of a rebranding.

As of 2012 PwC United States is the fifth-largest privately owned organization in the United States.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:18 AM | Permalink

August 19, 2014

The best government in the world

By almost all measures, Switzerland has the best government in the world

By almost any measure of human accomplishment, and particularly in creating a most successful country governance model, the Swiss are clearly No. 1 in the world.  Switzerland is a small, landlocked nation without much in the way of natural resources. It has managed to stay out of wars for two centuries and developed a long-term multilingual and multireligious democracy without strife. There is a rule of law with competent and unbiased judges and strong protections for private property.

Among the countries of the world, Switzerland ranks:

No. 1 in "life satisfaction" (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development's Better Life Index);
No. 1 in "global competitiveness" (World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Index);
No. 2 in "labor -force participation rate" (OECD Labor Force Statistics);
No. 3 in "happiness" (United Nations World Happiness Report);
No. 4 in "economic freedom" (Fraser Institute and Cato Institute Economic Freedom of the World Report);
No. 7 in "per-capita income" on a purchasing-power parity basis (International Monetary Fund World Economic Outlook);
No. 2 in "overall prosperity" (Legatum Institute's Prosperity Index); and
No. 1 in "life expectancy at birth" (OECD Better Life Index).
Switzerland also ranks higher than average among the OECD countries (the 35 most-developed economies in the world) in levels of education and student test scores, and has lower levels of air and water pollution.

Civil liberties are strongly protected, including freedom of speech, religion, press, assembly and even the right to own guns. It does not get much better than this.

The Swiss have also avoided creating the "cult of personality" around their elected leadership. The elected rulers of Switzerland are not well known by their own countrymen and are almost invisible to the rest of the world.  The odds are very high you have never heard of Didier Burkhalter.  He's the current Swiss President.

Here at home Dana Milbank writes in the Washington Post that  Americans’ optimism is dying

It is the very essence of the American Dream: an irrepressible confidence that our children will live better than we do.  And now it is gone.  It has been slipping for some time, really, but a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll this month put an exclamation point on Americans’ lost optimism.

When asked if “life for our children’s generation will be better than it has been for us,” fully 76 percent said they do not have such confidence. Only 21 percent did. That was the worst ever recorded in the poll; in 2001, 49 percent were confident and 43 percent not.
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the gloom goes beyond wealth, gender, race, region, age and ideology. This fractious nation is united by one thing: lost faith in the United States.

Yang’s suspicion, which I share, is that something deeper is also at work: Americans are reacting, in part, to the breakdown of the political system, which leaves people quite rationally worried about American decline and the nation’s diminishing ability to weather crises. “One of the hallmarks of being an American is the optimism that your children will be better off,” Yang told me. The lost optimism, he said, “says a lot about how shaken we are by the inability of our political system to address seemingly easy issues, and it leaves us worried about the future.”

Talk about easy issues, Congress can't even come together to protect the electrical grid from total collapse due to an EMP or a solar flare- something that could be done quickly and at little cost.  No wonder people are discouraged about the future.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:20 PM | Permalink

An electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, is "the most significant threat" to the U.S. and our allies in the world.

In the Wall Street Journal, James Woolsey former director of the CIA warns us of  The Growing Threat From an EMP Attack  A nuclear device detonated above the U.S. could kill millions, and we've done almost nothing to prepare.

In a recent letter to investors, billionaire hedge-fund manager Paul Singer warned that an electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, is "the most significant threat" to the U.S. and our allies in the world. He's right. Our food and water supplies, communications, banking, hospitals, law enforcement, etc., all depend on the electric grid. Yet until recently little attention has been paid to the ease of generating EMPs by detonating a nuclear weapon in orbit above the U.S., and thus bringing our civilization to a cold, dark halt……

What would a successful EMP attack look like? The EMP Commission, in 2008, estimated that within 12 months of a nationwide blackout, up to 90% of the U.S. population could possibly perish from starvation, disease and societal breakdown.
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What to do?

Surge arrestors, faraday cages and other devices that prevent EMP from damaging electronics, as well micro-grids that are inherently less susceptible to EMP, have been used by the Defense Department for more than 50 years to protect crucial military installations and strategic forces. These can be adapted to protect civilian infrastructure as well. The cost of protecting the national electric grid, according to a 2008 EMP Commission estimate, would be about $2 billion—roughly what the U.S. gives each year in foreign aid to Pakistan.

When the lights go out forever…

It is ironic that, in just a handful of generations, America’s dependence on electricity and computer technology is absolute. Its disappearance would lead to the collapse of civilization, a prospect which must look quite enticing to those actors who wish to do America harm.
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Can this dark future be prevented? Of course, but the will to address this threat in Washington apparently does not exist.


Tech companies and influencers seek to prevent EMP damage

Concern over the destruction inflicted by an EMP attack from North Korea has heightened since Congress created the first Congressional EMP Commission in 2001, but the electric grid’s vulnerability to disruptions associated with solar flares has been known for more than 150 years.

Industry watchers attribute the grid’s poor security to turf wars involving the federal government’s Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the international nonprofit North American Electric Reliability Corporation, as well as a lack of urgency by both organizations

The Foundation for Resilient Societies, in a July op-ed in the Capitol Hill publication The Hill, for example, blasted NERC and FERC for a May 2013 vote against improving the physical security standards for the grid after six men with AK-47 machine guns shot up a substation in California.

Only after FERC report about leaked almost a year later did the agency pressure NERC to improve physical security

Sifma: Terrorist Attack Could Temporarily Drain Account Balances

Wall Street’s biggest trade group has proposed a government-industry cyber war council to stave off terrorist attacks that could trigger financial panic by temporarily wiping out account balances, according to an internal document.

The proposal by the Securities Industry and Financial Market Association calls for a committee of executives and deputy-level representatives from at least eight U.S. agencies including the Treasury Department, the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security….

“The systemic consequences could well be devastating for the economy as the resulting loss of confidence in the security of individual and corporate savings and assets could trigger widespread runs on financial institutions that likely would extend well beyond the directly impacted banks, securities firms and asset managers,” Sifma wrote in the document, dated June 27.

The cost of protecting our electrical infrastructure is so small - $2 billion - and the devastating impacts of an EMP attack so horrendous and immediate, there should be not a single Congressman who is opposed to it, no matter what their political persuasion.  I urge you to demand that your Congressman or candidate for Congress go on record as to the urgent need for legislation and immediate action to protect this country's electrical grid. 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:39 PM | Permalink

August 18, 2014

Ebola: "Everybody left with their own thing. What are they carrying to their homes? They are carrying their deaths.”

Ebola is running away from us and we do not know the true scale of deaths

International doctors have admitted they don't know the true scale of deaths from the deadly Ebola virus warning the disease is spreading faster than the response.
The group Doctors Without Borders (Medecin Sans Frontieres) have likened the outbreak in west Africa to a state of war and said that the epidemic could last another six months.
Meanwhile, a medical worker on the frontline of tackling the disease in Liberia says response teams are unable to document all the cases erupting as many of the sick are being hidden at home rather than taken to Ebola treatment centres.

Tarnue Karbbar, who works for the aid group Plan International in northern Liberia says in the last several days, up to 75 new cases a day are emerging in single districts.
He also added that those who have succumbed to the deadly virus are buried before teams can get to the area.  He said: 'Our challenge now is to quarantine the area to successfully break the transmission.'  It comes as Joanne Liu, international president of Doctors Without Borders told reporters in Geneva on Friday that there is no sign of stopping the disease.  She said: 'We're running behind a train that is going forward. 'And it literally is faster than what we're bringing in terms of a response.'
The doctors' warnings come as a World Health Organisation official claimed that Ebola treatment centres are filling up faster than they can be provided in west Africa.
WHO spokesman in Geneva Gregory Hartl said: 'The flood of patients into every newly opened treatment center is evidence that the numbers aren't keeping up.'…..

Earlier the UN organisation had said the epidemic had been 'vastly' underestimated and that extraordinary measures are needed to contain the disease.
The Geneva-based organisation said in a statement that it was co-ordinating a 'massive scale-up of the international response' in a bid to tackle the spread of the Ebola.

So far, 2,127 cases of the disease and 1,145 deaths have been reported in four nations — Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone — the W.H.O announced Friday

NY Times With Aid Doctors Gone, Ebola Fight Grows Harder

The departure of many Western development workers from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the West African countries hit hardest by Ebola, has further weakened the region’s understaffed health systems at the very moment they are facing one of the most volatile public health crises ever. Liberia, population four million, has fewer than 250 doctors left in the entire country, according to the Liberia Medical and Dental Council. Seven doctors there have contracted Ebola, and two of them have died.

“The locals’ seeing this mass exodus of expatriates has contributed to the sense that there’s an apocalypse happening and they’re in it on their own,”
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On Saturday afternoon, several hundred people in an area of Monrovia known as the West Point slum broke through the gates of a former school that had been converted days earlier into a holding center for people with suspected Ebola.

Samuel Tarplah, 48, a nurse running the center, said Saturday evening that the protesters wanted to shut it down. “They told us that we don’t want an Ebola holding center in our community.” He said the intruders stole mattresses, personal protective equipment, even buckets of chlorine that had just been delivered. “They took everything.”

Fear is complicating the huge increase in aid that is needed: food for people in areas that have been cordoned off; laboratory supplies to test for the disease; gloves, face masks and gowns to protect health workers; body bags for the dead; bedsheets to replace those that must be burned. Airlines have canceled flights that could have carried in such supplies, despite assurances from the W.H.O. that properly screened passengers pose little risk. Positions on aid teams remain unfilled.

Mob Destroys Ebola Center In Liberia Two Days After It Opens  Fear and denial of the deadly virus are pervasive in Liberia. The mob exponentially increased the risk in one of the country’s biggest Ebola hot spots.

A mob descended on the center at around 5:30 p.m., chanting, “No Ebola in West Point! No Ebola in West Point!” They stormed the front gate and pushed into the holding center. They stole the few gloves someone had donated this morning, and the chlorine sprayers used to disinfect the bodies of those who die here, all the while hollering that Ebola is a hoax.

They ransacked the protective suits, the goggles, the masks. They destroyed part of Tarplah’s car as he was fleeing the crowd.    Jemimah Kargbo, a health care worker at a clinic next door, said they took mattresses and bedding, utensils and plastic chairs. Everybody left with their own thing,” she said. “What are they carrying to their homes? They are carrying their deaths.”

She said the police showed up but the crowd intimidated them. “The police were there but they couldn’t contain them. They started threatening the police, so the police just looked at them,” she said.
And then mob left with all of the patients.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:36 PM | Permalink

"Politics is becoming about identity all the time"

Richard Fernandez  in Man Without a Country poses questions we all can ponder.  Where do our loyalties lie?  To God and country or to our primary affinity group?

The Left for its part, has done its level best to multiply the hyphens while simultaneously trying to increase the size and power of the central state. They little realized or perhaps they realized all too well, that a program of cultural fragmentation combined with growing central power is the high road to dictatorship. You can have cultural diversity and a strong central government but not both — not unless it’s headed by a Sultan or an Emperor….

Tribalism is trending.  The End of History world is over. All of a sudden it matters again whether you’re Yazidi, Kurdish, Sunni, Shi’ite, Druze or Christian. It apparently matters whether you’re Russian or non-Russian, at least in Eastern Europe. And as Tolu Ongulesi in Nigeria notes, tribalism is alive and well in Africa, especially now that Ebola is running rampant…..

History may be evolving away from the Westphalian State, with its unitary national culture, flags and traditions and moving towards affinity groups whose allegiance is primarily to themselves;  which only form temporary alliances based on expedience in competition with other affinity groups.

The evidence is suggestive. Nobody is just an “American” any more. Anyone who insists on the plain identifier must be a secret bigot. You are a [modifier][-][American]. In fact, Forbes noted that “the number of Americans renouncing United States citizenship or terminating long-term residency is on a record pace.” And why not? The unadorned term “American” is being drained of meaning; what value there is lies in the prefix, not in the suffix…..

Politics is becoming about identity all the time….

There are affinity groups which cut across ethnicity based on sexual orientation, religion, level of disability, age and degree of dependence on one industry or the other, including government. This creates a bewildering landscape of interests and competing loyalties. The Democrats believe that the key to understanding the wilderness they’ve created is Big Data and its interface, social media. But if hyphenation — indeed multiple hyphenation — is the future, then Washington may be in the past.

What if nations’, as traditionally defined, are now passe? Suppose we are moving to a future where Westphalian nationality is nominal and operational identity is associated with a primary affinity group (PAG)? The most obvious candidate PAG is money. The tribe of the executive airport lounge, first class seating and the non-motel hotel. Some believe it is now possible to speak of a transnational elite whose real citizenship is money.

Or perhaps the PAG will be defined by values, religion, or membership in a mutual protection association into which you pay dues, like the military, police or ISIS. If this is the future then the dominant attractor of 21st century will be self-identification. Then we are not watching the last religious or ideological wars, merely the first.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:31 PM | Permalink

August 4, 2014

"It would be lawless, reckless, a leap into the antidemocratic dark"

Ross Douthat in Obama's Impeachment Game

SOMETHING rather dangerous is happening in American politics right now, all the more so for being taken for granted by many of the people watching it unfold….. the president is contemplating — indeed, all but promising — an extraordinary abuse of office: the granting of temporary legal status, by executive fiat, to up to half the country’s population of illegal immigrants.
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It would be lawless, reckless, a leap into the antidemocratic dark.  And an American political class that lets this Rubicon be crossed without demurral will deserve to live with the consequences for the republic, in what remains of this presidency and in presidencies yet to come.

Attorney John Hinderaker: Is Barack Obama Plotting a Coup?

That seems like an awfully strong word, but it is the term that distinguished law professor Glenn Reynolds, no hysteric, uses to describe the Obama administration’s oft-reported plan to issue executive amnesty to five or six million illegal immigrants in violation of federal law. Glenn’s characterization is a fair one. When a tyrant asserts the right to rule by decree in a state that has formerly been subject to the rule of law, he is commonly described as carrying out a coup d’etat.

That is just what the Obama administration has done, and reportedly will continue to do. ….

When Obama changed the Affordable Care Act by decree–to name just one example, substituting “2014″ for “2013″ in a critical provision of the statute–he acted as a tyrant. In his refusal to enforce the immigration laws, contrary to the Constitution which requires him to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” he has acted like a tinpot dictator, asserting the right to change or ignore the law by fiat. If he now directly nullifies Section 274(a) of the Immigration and Nationalities Act by legalizing, and issuing work permits to, five or six million illegal immigrants, thereby repealing federal law by decree, how else can we describe his action but as a coup? The Obama administration openly takes the position that the rule of law no longer applies.

The Washington Post admits that Immigration has emerged as perhaps President Obama's worst issue -- definitely for today, and maybe of his entire presidency -- when it comes to public perception.  Three to one Americans are opposed to his immigration policies in general.

And no wonder given the border stories reported in the past weeks about human trafficking, drug cartels, terrorists, children used as pawns and unknown health risks.  For me to begin to realize that this crisis was planned leaves me gobsmacked.  In what sane or rational world would a government plan chaos? 

Report: Obama Administration Ignored Border Crisis to Win Re-Election and Push Amnesty Bill

According to a report in the Washington Post, "top officials at the White House and the State Department had repeatedly been warned of the potential for a further explosion in the number of migrant children since the crisis began escalating two years ago," and the White House was reportedly even "directly involved in efforts in early 2012 to care for the children when it helped negotiate a temporary shelter at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio."

In 2013, "a team from the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) raised alarms about the federal government’s capacity to manage a situation that was expected to grow worse" and "the researchers’ observations were among the warning signs conveyed to the Obama administration over the past two years." A "former senior federal law enforcement official" told the outlet that immigration, law enforcement, and border patrol officials were raising "red flags" and "ringing alarm bells" for years. Texas Governor Rick Perry even wrote a letter to Obama in 2011, which Perry has repeatedly been mentioning during the crisis….Was the White House told there were huge flows of Central Americans coming? Of course they were told. A lot of times,’’ a person involved in the planning told the Post.
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The Obama administration also increased funding for resettlement programs, signaling they had anticipated a much greater number of illegal immigrants than the administration made public. For instance, the Health and Human Services Department's $149 Office of Refugee Resettlement budget increased to $376 million in 2013, "and the Obama administration requested $495 million in its fiscal 2014 budget proposal," as the Post noted. This year, "the line-item for the refugee office had increased significantly from Obama’s initial request of $495 million to $868 million — based on the larger projections of minors."

Border Tsunami

There is a single simple cause behind the human tragedy at the border: Obama’s refusal to enforce the immigration laws. The steady flow became a tsunami after Obama implemented childhood amnesty (DACA) in 2012. This lawless immigration policy gave legal status to young illegal aliens by Obama edict. But Obama’s lawless leniency went even further. The president publicly and proudly announced that he will not enforce other immigration laws. His presidential invitation spread like wildfire throughout Central and South America, and the lawless invasion grew worse.

White House Hid Huge Spike Of Families Crossing Border

New data shows the White House has painted a false picture of the Central American migration by hiding a huge spike in “family units” who are illegally crossing the Texas border. The data, which was dumped by the U.S. border patrol late Friday afternoon, shows that inflow of youths and children traveling without parents has doubled since 2013, to 57,525 in the nine months up to July 2014.  But the number of migrants who cross the border in so-called “family units” has spiked five-fold to 55,420, according to the border patrol’s data, which came out amid a storm of news about the shoot-down of a Malaysian aircraft in Ukraine, delays in failed U.S. nuke talks with Iran, and on Hamas’ continued war against Israel.

In the Rio Grande area where most of the migrants are crossing the border, the number of so-called “unaccompanied children” was actually outnumbered by the inflow by adults, parents and children in “family units,” according to the data. The much-faster growth in “family units” has been hidden by White House and agency officials, who have tried to portray the influx as a wave of children fleeing abuse and violence.

The border invasion was, by all evidence,  been planned by the Obama administration.  Make no mistake, the president has instigated the present influx of illegal aliens.
writes Andrew McCarthy in  An Obama-Caused Border Disaster

The president has spent nearly six years giving effective legal immunity to millions of illegal aliens already here. His administration, meanwhile, hooks them on the government gravy train and fights state efforts to detain them, deny social services to them, and prevent them from fraudulently voting. Under those circumstances, the rolling out of a federal red carpet for teeming masses of illegal aliens must be understood as intentional.
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Make no mistake: President Obama has instigated this crisis — a two-fer that advances the project of remaking the country while crowding the IRS, the VA, Benghazi, Bergdahl, the Taliban, ISIS, Hamas, the EPA, Obamacare, Ukraine, and other debacles out of the public’s finite attention span. The invasion was invited by a systematic campaign to gut the immigration laws.
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Judge Hannen went on to recount that this was the fourth case in as many weeks that followed this fact pattern. In each case, illegal-alien parents funded criminal conspiracies to smuggle their illegal-alien children into the country; in each case, Obama’s DHS stopped the smugglers and the children at the border, yet — instead of arresting the illegal-alien parents behind the scheme — willfully perfected the conspiracy by doing what the smuggler had been illegally recruited to do: deliver the children to their illegal alien parents. “The DHS,” the court concluded, “has simply chosen not to enforce the United States’ border security laws.”

Business is booming! Child migrant smugglers tell how they make $4,000 profit per person on treacherous clandestine journey from Central America to the US

Vast majority of migrants who enter the U.S. illegally do so with the help of a network of smugglers known as 'coyotes'. Business generates $6.6 billion a year for smugglers along Latin America's routes to the U.S.. Migrants pay anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 each for the illegal journey across thousands of miles in the care of smuggling networks. Some of the money is used to pay off government officials, gangs operating on trains and drug cartels controlling the routes north. The profit made by the coyotes can be as much as $4,000 per person

Human Smuggler: ‘Business Is Very Good’

Casillas, the migration expert, said the migrant smuggling business is a complex corporate structure. Guides at the border usually work for honchos who run the operation from afar and only pocket a fraction of the price charged to the migrants. One of the most important coyotes moving immigrants from El Salvador lives in Texas, he said.  “It’s a criminal chain that has two segments. The invisible segment … is dedicated to administration, organization and finances,” he said. “They don’t necessarily even see the migrants.”  The guides often don’t know who they are working for, he added. The big guys rarely get caught. While federal officials along the U.S. border seem to roll out cases against human smugglers almost on a weekly basis, the targets are largely drivers and stash house operators.

Former Border Patrol Deputy Chief: ‘All of the Good That Was Done after 9/11 Up to Now Has Been Reversed Singlehandedly’

Colburn, who spent more than 30 years working for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, says the resulting national-security risk has to do with the “clutter” of people at the border. He says all of the gains made since 9/11 came as a result of reducing the number of people crossing the border. The Border Patrol’s task is to sort through the haystack of people as they come across, he says. “What this situation on the border is doing is growing the haystack, is adding clutter, so that those dangerous needles get through because we’re tied up capturing, instead, juvenile children from Guatemala and El Salvador,” he says. “When you see the cartels — the Zetas and MS-13 and the Gulf Cartel — laughing about this on the Internet, you know what’s behind it.”

BORDER PATROL: "We need help!"; Cartels lay down .50-cal suppressing fire to help illegals invade U.S.

Shots rang out Friday night in Rincon Peninsula, Texas, forcing U.S. border patrol agents to take cover. The shots originated from south of the Rio Grande River and according to Border Patrol sources they came from a high-powered .50 caliber rifle. Based on what agents witnessed next, according to Texas State Representative Louie Gohmert, this wasn’t just random fire.

“When the shooting stopped, about 40 to 50 people came out on the U.S. side and turned themselves in. So clearly the rounds were being fired to suppress every effort to stop anybody intervening with anyone or anything coming across,” Gohmert added. “We have no idea what or how many or whom came across with the other illegal immigrants.”

Sources said they believe the gunfire came from members of Mexican drug cartels, which include former military members trained in shooting that type of weaponry.
Border Patrol sources said the rounds were clearly identifiable because .50- caliber weapons make a distinctive noise when fired. Sources said they also believe this is the first time that Border Patrol agents have taken direct fi

Judicial Watch Mexican Cartels Help Hezbollah Infiltrate U.S.

Hezbollah’s business relationship with Mexican drug cartels is a driving force behind this phenomenon, according to the analysis that quotes alarming excerpts from the book. For instance in 2009, a former Chief of Operations for the DEA said that Hezbollah uses “the same criminal weapons smugglers, document traffickers and transportation experts as the drug cartels.”

A year later a man (Jamal Yousef) arrested in New York admitted stealing weapons from Iraq for Hezbollah and told authorities of a Hezbollah stockpile in Mexico that included 100 M-16 assault rifles, 100 AR-15 rifles, 2500 hand grenades, C4 explosives and anti-tank weapons. That same year a Hezbollah terrorist was captured in Tijuana and a senior Mexican military officer confirmed the group was conducting explosives training for members of Mexican drug cartels.

In the U.S., law enforcement officials across the nation’s Southwest region report a rise in imprisoned gang members with Farsi tattoos that experts say express loyalty to Hezbollah, the book analysis reveals. One U.S. law enforcement official is quoted as saying this: “You could almost pick your city and you would probably have a [Hezbollah] presence.”

This is not surprising considering that for years a number of reports have exposed the connection between Mexico and Middle Eastern terrorists. In 2010 a veteran federal agent in the U.S. immigration system exposed a government cover-up of Middle Eastern terrorists entering the country through Mexico. The 30-year agent confirmed that thousands of SIAs (Special Interest Aliens) from terrorist nations like Yemen, Iran, Sudan and Afghanistan—classified as OTM (Other Than Mexican)—were captured along the southern border.

Leaked report from the Customs and Border Protection (CBP), marked sensitive shows the entire world is exploiting open southern US border with individuals from  Syria, Pakistan, Albania, China , Egypt, Yemen, Somalia  and the small nations currently suffering from the largest Ebola crossing the border.

'A lot of people die out here' and 'all this blood…is on Obama's hands': Shocking images show corpses of illegal immigrants left to die after border crossings

Rancher shares grotesque photos with MailOnline, saying Obama bears the blame for a rising death toll among illegal immigrants
Volunteer patrol network in south Texas has found 259 bodies in one county alone, maybe 20 percent of the actual body count
Border Patrol source concedes the agency has no idea how many are perishing between the border and official government checkpoints

‘Potential for a Public Health Disaster’: Illegal Immigrant Surge Leaves Officials With ‘No Idea’ Which Diseases Are Coming Across

“There is really no hard stop at the border, and we have no idea health-wise what diseases are coming across,” a health official who works in the McAllen border area told TheBlaze. ”There’s no real medical screening either. Basically if [an illegal immigrant] tells a Border Patrol agent or law enforcement official they feel sick, or if they look sick, then they’re checked. If they don’t say anything, that’s it, they’re cleared.”
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“It’s a rough situation for the Border Patrol agents and the illegals immigrants as well,” Cabrera said. “We can only do so much and we’re not doctors. We can’t be sure that some of the people who’ve already left our facility aren’t carrying something contagious. This is a situation the federal government should have already prepared for but they didn’t.”

Former Border Patrol Agent Warns What’s Coming

Zach Taylor is a 27 year veteran Border Patrol agent with supervisory experience. He has testified before Congress as an expert witness on criminal activity in wilderness areas. His message is credible. He accuses the federal government in a coverup that is deliberately shielding critical information from the public.

Taylor says that whoever is perpetrating the border crisis is engaged in a perfect asymmetrical military tactic. While the American people focus on “the children,” he points out that they are actually only a tiny proportion of the people crossing the border. That we are apprehending about 10 percent of the illegal border crossers, and that the other 90 percent are not children. Since only 10 – 15 percent of those apprehended are children, that means we are focused on about 1 percent of the problem. The adults that we are missing are bringing in weapons, personnel and supplies while our attention is diverted by the needs of the children.

How to Think About Immigration writes  Kevin Williamson. The U.S. government is generally expected to act in the interest of the people of the United States.

1. Borders are a fundamental aspect of national sovereignty. They are, in part, what defines a country —
2. Where the national government acts to establish rules and standards for immigration, it must first establish the controlling criterion, answering the question of what it intends to accomplish through its immigration policies.
4. Immigrants often serve our national economic interests by bringing skills and resources to the service of the U.S. economy.
5. Immigration from nearby countries — and, to some extent, all modern immigration — presents absorption problems that were not present with, say, European immigrants in the late 18th and early 19th century.
6. The United States of America is not the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Federal Register. It is not a legal entity, and it is not an abstraction. It is a particular people, with a particular culture and particular institutions.
7. We write our laws down for a reason. The point of having general, enforceable rules is that they are generally enforced. There is, as Andrew C. McCarthy likes to point out, room for prosecutorial discretion. There is not room for refusing to enforce the law in tens of millions of cases, and then creating a post facto regime of non-enforcement. That is simple chaos.

Even  in the Ellis Island days the US never accepted unaccompanied children as legal immigrants.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:16 PM | Permalink

Health Roundup: The Pill, chemo while pregnant, breastfeeding, aspirin, ibuprofen and blood test for cancer

Breastfeeding 'beats statins' to curb risk of heart disease: Babies given mother's milk for at least three months less likely to suffer from clogged arteries later in life

Being breastfed as a baby might be better than statins in staving off heart disease in later life, according to new research. Babies given mother’s milk for three months or more have a much lower risk of the chronic inflammation that can also lead to diabetes and other metabolic illnesses, US researchers say.  Suckling lowers the amounts of C-reactive protein (CRP) in the blood that is linked to clogged arteries and damage to blood vessels.

Professor Molly Metzger, of Washington University, said: ‘We are looking at the effects of these early factors on later levels of CRP, a biomarker associated with risk for cardiovascular and metabolic disease. Comparing the long-term effects of breastfeeding to the effects of clinical trials of statin therapy, we find breastfeeding to exert effects that are as large or larger."

Her findings – published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences – indicate breastfeeding has implications for children’s health decades later, she said. The researchers used data from the US National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, including parent surveys, and blood samples providing measurements of CRP.


Taking the Pill 'raises the risk of breast cancer by 50 per cent'

Women taking contraceptive pills have a 50 per cent higher overall risk of developing breast cancer, a study has found.  Some pills with high levels of oestrogen can raise the risk threefold, compared with that of women who have never taken the Pill or who have stopped using it, US scientists found. Pills containing low-dose hormones carried no extra risk.

The study – published in Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research – involved 23,000 women and claims to be the first to look at up-to-date formulations of oral contraceptives used in the 1990s and 2000s. Pills containing high-dose estrogen increased breast cancer risk 2.7-fold, or 170 per cent, while those with moderate-dose estrogen increased the risk 1.6-fold.  Pills containing low-dose estrogen did not increase breast cancer risk.  Across recent use of all pills, breast cancer risk increased by 50 per cent, compared with never or former use.

Chemo While Pregnant? L'Chaim!

Some chemotherapy drugs are thought to be harmful to a fetus during every stage of pregnancy, but many are not.  Pregnant women have been successfully treating their cancer in the second and third trimesters without harming their babies for over twenty years -- and yet this fact is far from common knowledge. 

How one-minute bursts of exercise can boost health for over-60s in just six weeks

Short, sharp bursts of exercise could transform the lives of the over-60s, research suggests.  Just two one-minute sessions a week for six weeks dramatically improved the health and physical fitness of men and women in this age group….Dr Babraj said: ‘What we found with this study, which involves doing just one minute of exercise twice a week, is that it not only improved the participants’ physical health and ability to do these things, but also their perceptions of their own ability to engage in physical activity.
‘They enjoyed it, were delighted with the effects it had on their health and, on top of that, felt they could fit it into their lives, which is something they aren’t able to do with current exercise recommendations.

Could aspirin give you a heart attack? Gene found which doubles the risk for millions who take painkiller thinking it will ward off cardiac problems

Nearly a quarter of adults - 23% - have been found to carry particular gene.  When combined with aspirin, it nearly doubles risk of suffering heart attack.  U.S. study is the first to link dangers from the painkiller with gene variations
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While past studies have shown taking aspirin can increase the risk of potentially life-threatening internal bleeding, this study, by scientists at Harvard University in the US, is the first to link dangers from the drug with gene variations.
Dr Kathryn Hall, the report’s lead author, said, ‘We need to look at ourselves as individuals, a certain constellation of genes, and to take that into consideration. If the research is validated in further study, it would be the logical next step to test everyone for these genes before giving them aspirin."

The latest study involved nearly 40,000 women over a ten-year period. Of those, 23 per cent carried a variation of the catechol-O-methyltransferase gene, which helps the body process stress hormones, linked to heart problems and stroke.  The research found that those who had the gene were naturally protected and were 34 per cent less likely to have heart attacks. However, taking aspirin removed this protection and increased their risk of heart problems by 85 per cent – and, in some cases, by as much as three times.

Ibuprofen affects men and women very differently.when it comes to emotional distress. 

Men who take the drug report harsher feelings of rejection, and women report feeling better, researchers found. They say the discovery could shed new light on how men and women deal with emotional problems - and how best to treat them.

A revolutionary blood test that could detect any type of cancer has been developed by British scientists.
It is hoped the breakthrough will enable doctors to rule out cancer in patients presenting with certain symptoms - saving time and preventing costly and unnecessary invasive procedures and biopsies.  Early results have shown the simple test can diagnose cancer and pre-cancerous conditions from the blood of patients with melanoma, colon cancer and lung cancer with a high degree of accuracy.

The Lymphocyte Genome Sensitivity (LGS) assesses white blood cells and measures the damage caused to their DNA when subjected to different intensities of ultraviolet light (UVA), which is known to damage DNA. The Bradford scientists say there is a 'clear distinction between the damage to the white blood cells from patients with cancer, with pre-cancerous conditions and from healthy patients'.

Another blood test appears to predict suicide risk through a particular gene - SKA2 - report researchers at John Hopkins after a small study.  More research is needed.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:07 AM | Permalink

August 2, 2014

Artist uses tiny insects to build his creations

Artist Hubert Duprat Collaborates with Caddisfly Larvae as They Build Aquatic Cocoons from Gold and Pearl

 Caddisfly Larvae Gold Cocoons

Right now, in almost every river in the world, some 12,000 different species of caddisfly larvae wriggle and crawl through sediment, twigs, and rocks in an attempt to build temporary aquatic cocoons. To do this, the small, slow-moving creatures excrete silk from salivary glands near their mouths which they use like mortar to stick together almost every available material into a cozy tube. A few weeks later a fully developed caddisfly emerges and almost immediately flies away.

After first learning about caddisflies, self-taught (and self-professed amateur) artist Hubert Duprat had a thought. Had a caddisfly ever naturally encountered a fleck of gold in a river and used it to build a home? And then one step further: what if a caddisfly had only gold and other precious stones or jewels to work with?
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:55 AM | Permalink